Open battle between striking teamsters armed with pipes and the police in the streets of Minneapolis, June 1934
The citywide Minneapolis Teamster’s Local 574 strike began on May 16, 1934. The fundamental issue in the strike was over the open or closed shop with regard to transportation and warehouse unionization in this Midwestern city.
After facing off against cops, bosses’ goons, business union misleaders, two-faced politicians, the Citizen’s Alliance and the National Guard, the Teamsters broke the back of the formerly open-shop citadel, Minneapolis, ushering in what became a union city.
Four workers died by cops’ and goons’ guns and/or other weapons during this strike. Illuminating features of this strike were the willingness of the strikers to independently fight on their own terms, many times physically, and also form military formations, drawing on the experience of many of the strikers who were WWI veterans.
Thus, the strike leaders, anticipating that they would be facing naked state oppression eventually, led the strikers to set up and run infirmaries, soup kitchens, flying squadrons and the like.
Furthermore, a critical aspect of this strike was the formation of the Minneapolis Organization of the Unemployed. The Minneapolis Teamster’s leadership made it a priority to include the unemployed organization as a formal part of their union. Thus the unemployed as well as sympathetic farmers were life-and-death allies of the strikers and played valuable tactical and strategic roles in the strike and thereafter.
The successful conclusion of this strike by Local 574 led to the unionization of over-the-road truckers and other workers throughout the Midwest and nationally.
Bryan G. Pfeifer, “Lessons of three strikes from 1934 needed now”
Reuters Campaign Finance Correspondent Alina Selyukh sent in this photo from CPAC where Occupy protesters and unions are demonstrating.
Crowds of people were chanting “We got sold out” and “We are the 99 percent” in a demonstration dubbed the “War on workers.”
Another protest is planned for later this evening, Selyukh reports. [REUTERS/Alina Selyukh]